Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada discussed the matter with his visiting Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, in Tokyo on Wednesday.
“The Japanese side welcomed the efforts aimed at normalization of the relations between Armenia and Turkey shown in signing of Armenian-Turkish protocols in Zurich on October 10, 2009, and underlines the importance of ratification and implementation of the reached agreements which would lead to the peace and stability in the region,” read a joint statement issued by the two men after the talks.
The Turkish-Armenian rapprochement was also welcomed by Takahiro Yokomichi, the speaker of the lower house of Japan’s parliament who met Nalbandian earlier in the day. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Yokomichi said the process “will reflect positively on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
The United States, the European Union and Russia have likewise expressed hope that the Armenian and Turkish parliaments will ratify the two protocols soon without any preconditions. Washington hopes that the documents envisaging diplomatic relations between the two nations and the opening of their border will come into effect within a “reasonable” period of time.
Okada and Nalbandian also discussed the unresolved Karabakh conflict, the main obstacle to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Their statement said they agreed that the conflict’s resolution should be based on the internationally recognized “principles of Non-Use of force, Self-Determination of Peoples and Territorial Integrity.”
A separate statement issued by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Nalbandian briefed Okada on the results of the weekend talks in Munich between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The latter reportedly made progress some of the sticking points hampering the signing of a framework peace agreement.
During his Tokyo talks Nalbandian spoke of Armenia’s desire to deepen relations with Japan which he described as “one of the world’s leading country.” The ministry cited him as saying that the main purpose of his trip is to “map out ways of stepping up bilateral cooperation in various areas.” He also said that Armenia plans to open an embassy in Tokyo.
According to the joint communiqué, Nalbandian, who was scheduled to meet Japan’s crown Prince Narohito on Thursday, further thanked the Japanese government for multimillion-dollar economic assistance provided to his country since independence. He was reported to single out a $240 million concessional loan provided by the state-run Japan Bank for International Cooperation for the ongoing reconstruction of a major thermal power plant in Yerevan.
The plant’s new and much more efficient power-generating unit is due to go on stream next April. With a capacity of 240 megawatts, the facility will be able to meet at least one-fifth of Armenia’s electricity needs.
“Both sides underlined the importance of contacts between the business circles of the two countries including reciprocal visits in order to facilitate trade and investments between the two countries and expressed expectations that the business relations would be further strengthened,” said the statement. “The Armenian side appreciated the activities of Japanese companies in Armenia and welcomes the expansion of their presence.”